The new U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands is facing criticism after a Dutch journalist asked him about comments the ambassador made about “no-go” areas in the Netherlands, where he claimed radical Muslims were setting cars and politicians on fire.
In the interview, which was recorded on video, U.S. ambassador Pete Hoekstra denied he made the comments, calling the question “fake news,” The Hill reported.
But the Dutch report shows a video clip of Hoekstra at a 2015 event at the David Horowitz Freedom Center where Hoekstra said, “The Islamic movement has now gotten to a point where they have put Europe into chaos. Chaos in the Netherlands, there are cars being burned, there are politicians that are being burned.”
“There are no-go zones in the Netherlands.”
When Dutch reporter Wouter Zwart asked again about Hoekstra’s comments, Hoekstra denied using the phrase “fake news,” which he had said just moments before.
“I didn’t call that fake news,” he said in the video. “I didn’t use the words today. I don’t think I did.”
The interview was shown on the program Nieuwsuur.
Hoekstra was sworn in as the ambassador to the Netherlands earlier this month, and some Dutch citizens are not happy about this latest incident. One headline from Dutch Review read, “The new Trump Ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, lies about his own lies.”
On Saturday, Hoekstra responded on Twitter:
“I made certain remarks in 2015 and regret the exchange during the Nieuwsuur interview,” he tweeted. “Please accept my apology… I look forward to the opportunity to learn, to listen, and to move on in the spirit of peace and friendship with the people and the leaders of the Netherlands.”
Hoekstra was born in the Netherlands and his family emigrated to Michigan when he was a toddler, The Washington Post reported. He served as a Republican congressman and chaired the House Intelligence Committee. His name was floated as a potential director for the CIA.
Hoekstra has expressed opinions that are at odds with widely-held Dutch values. He is opposed to same-sex marriage, gay rights, women’s rights to abortion, he supports the death penalty and has argued that refugees pose a threat to European security.
Hoekstra has given several talks at the anti-Islam American Freedom Alliance, which has also hosted Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders. In 2015, Hoekstra blamed a “secret jihad” for the “chaos” in the Netherlands.
Kelsey Ryan: 816-234-4852, @kelsey_ryan